Speech Tip: Politics as Unusual: Love, Not Hate in Political Speeches
Politics. Can’t live with ’em. Can’t… I just can’t. I will write speeches for good people who want good things who are willing to say it all in a good way.
There are two major ways to write a political speech. Ask most people, and they’ll say, “Please, no more mudslinging,” but, when it comes down to it, mudslinging works. That’s why we love click bait, post what we know is false on Facebook, and encourage spite against “the other guy.”
Both parties use this, both decry it, and both embrace it. Both believe their party holds the higher moral ground, and with this, if their party dominates, they’ll bring in a nicer America. In this regard, both are wrong.
“Conservatives & Christians need to stop electing ‘nice guys’.”
– Jerry Falwell, Jr. wrote in a recent Twitter post.
Also, this week:
“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.”
– Hillary Clinton said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Click through both to read their quotes in context.
Choice One (Negative)
You can tell me how bad your opponent is. Talk about how awful his policies are, address his moral and ethical failings, and, if you can, poke at something annoying in his life. Focus on what will boil the blood of your supporters. You won’t get many new votes, but you will shore up existing supporters. This technique is good for demonizing the opponent, and depending on their influence, their party.
Choice Two (Positive)
The second way is to stay on your strengths. Tell your audience how you are good. Tell them how you’ll improve what exists and how you’ll introduce new ideas. You will do more than criticize broken things — you will explain how you, in the role you covet, can effect change. Relying on this kind of campaign, one void of negative tones toward your opponent, is highly risky. It is the more aggressive, but only for the more confident candidate. The less confident candidate is unable to earnestly compliment his opponent. You won’t easily raise the money the negative campaigner can, but you will draw more middle of the road voters (and even a few converts).
My bias is simple. It is less of a bias and more of a personal imperative. No negativity. I’m asked frequently to write stump speeches, keynotes, and related talks. Politics? Not exactly. Most candidates turn me down because they prefer angry, bitter declarations as opposed to positive campaigns.
I’ve written for several parties. I’m happy to help good candidates unafraid of keeping things positive. I wholeheartedly disagree with Clinton’s and Falwell’s willingness to be uncivil. I understand their frustration, but that’s the way playgrounds work, not the way I want my nation’s leaders to lead. They essentially believe that because the other side is being uncivil, so then should they. Neither is willing to lead boldly with kindness. Tit-for-tat.
I realize there are those who believe as Falwell and Clinton believe, that we need to respond with incivility, and that incivility is strength. If you prefer politics as usual, move on. Here’s a cute kitten calendar for you.